Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dolphins cut three players, claim three off waivers

Everyone knew the Dolphins' roster wasn't finalized even after Saturday's cut down to 53, and that was confirmed the following day when the Dolphins made three transactions involving six players. The team waived wide receiver Anthony Armstrong, offensive lineman Trey Darilek and linebacker Rob Ninkovich while claiming three players off waivers - wide receiver Brandon London (Giants) and offensive lineman Andy Alleman (Saints) and Nate Garner (Jets).

The Odd Men Out
  • Armstrong was signed during training camp as a member of arena league's Dallas Desperados. He impressed the staff with his deep-play ability in camp and finished the preseason with six catches for 61 yards. He was the sixth and final receiver on the roster before his release.
  • Darilek, who attended training camp with the Cowboys in 2007 before heading to the CFL, opened camp as the starting right guard, worked some at tackle and played the final two preseason games at center.
  • Ninkovich spent last season with the Dolphins after being claimed off waivers from the Saints. He was productive this preseason at outside linebacker, recording eight tackles and two sacks.
The Newcomers
  • Undrafted out of UMass in 2007, wide receiver Brandon London spent his first season on the Giants' practice squad and received a Super Bowl ring when the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. In the 2008 preseason, London finished third on the team in receptions (7) and fourth in yards (86). He will wear No. 17 in Miami, which was most recently worn by undrafted receiver John Dunlap in camp.
  • Alleman began his college career as a defensive end at Pitt before transferring to Akron and making the switch to the offensive line. He was selected in the third round by the Saints in 2007 but was inactive for 15 games his rookie season. (He dressed but did not play in the other.) Alleman will wear No. 57 in Miami, most recently worn by linebacker Titus Brown in camp.
  • The lone drafted player among Miami's claims, offensive tackle Nate Garner was selected by the Jets in the seventh round this year out of Arkansas. He will wear No. 75 in Miami, which was most recently worn by undrafted guard Matt Spanos in camp.

The most surprising cut of the three is Darilek. Not because Darilek was a good player, but because his versatility across the line had been so valued in camp. He worked plenty at guard and tackle and was most recently the second-team center behind Samson Satele. While Alleman, who will now backup Satele, easily has more upside that Darilek, I would have expected Ike Ndukwe to go before Darilek.

The release of Ninkovich is also somewhat of a surprise, albeit a minor one. Ninkovich did have a good camp and preseason, but he was nothing more than the third-string strong side linebacker and the team was sorely lacking offensive line depth. I do not believe Ninkovich is eligible for the practice squad, but I could be mistaken.

I had initially predicted Armstrong to be cut on Saturday, but it seems I was a day late. At his size (5-11, 175) there are durability concerns but he's got potential as a deep threat. He'll likely land on the practice squad.

I'm not going to claim to be an expert on the three players Miami claimed, because I am not. That being said, London does seem like a good pickup. He possesses good size at 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, and it sounds as if he made a strong case to beat out perennial disappointment Sinorice Moss in New York. (Perhaps Moss' draft status saved him.) I don't expect London to contribute any time soon, as he's more of a project than anything. Neither he nor Greg Camarillo is secure on the roster.

I will admit it is curious that Alleman, a third-round pick last year, was unable to even get on the field his rookie season. (Hey, neither could their first-rounder, Robert Meahem.) That being said, we know he's a solid prospect as a former third-rounder and the fact that nearly a quarter of the teams in the NFL (including the Jets and Patriots) put in claims for him bodes well for us too. The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Alleman will back up Satele at center and could develop into a reliable backup along the interior line.

I'm not saying it's the case, but realistically it's possible the claiming of Nate Garner from the Jets could be simply reconnaissance. Maybe the team does like the 6-foot-7, 310-pound Garner as a backup tackle and maybe they'll keep him, but there's no denying there is an advantage to bringing in a recently-released Jets player a week before we play them in the season opener. The Jets and Patriots do this kind of thing all the time trying to gain an edge on one another. Only time will tell how the Dolphins really view Garner, but don't be shocked if his tenure here following Week 1 is short. For now, he'll back up Vernon Carey at right tackle.